How to Apply for Research

It's never too early or too late to begin investigating research opportunities in the Department of Geological, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences. Our faculty may have opportunities at all levels (first year to senior).

  1. First, decide whether you really want to commit to doing research. Research can involve a full semester of time to a full year of dedication. Determine whether research fits within your schedule. Think about your interests and possible future career paths. It’s OK to not know your career path now, but research can help.  A research experience is valuable regardless of your career path and can open both job and graduate school opportunities. 
  2. Speak with your academic advisor about how to earn academic credits for research. This might include 1 credit, 2 credit, or 3 credit directed studies. A 3 credit Honors Thesis is also available to qualified students.  Honors theses are usually conducted in the junior or senior year. Paid research opportunities are also sometimes available through specific faculty, particularly during the summer months.
  3. Determine which professor appears to be the best qualified person to supervise you and your research. Start with the information provided by faculty members. Talk to them in person or begin your search by browsing our faculty pages online. Posters that describe faculty research are present throughout the department. Speaking with other students who have conducted research before is also really helpful. 
  4. Determine the specific types of projects that the professor is working on and whether they have space for you. Some professors have ongoing projects with which students have been involved for years, while other professors support students doing fully independent projects.  Some professors have students working in teams while others have you work independently. Projects may involve field work, lab work, computer work, etc. Investigate the research offerings by visiting our GSCI Research Application Form.
  5. Arrange a time to meet with the professor to discuss their research opportunities. If you are seeking to conduct an independent project (separate from your faculty mentor’s research), offer to provide an informal research plan or proposal. A one-page research plan may help convince the professor you are serious about that project. 
  6. Complete the department Research Application Form for undergraduate research for consideration. Be sure to regularly visit the link to see departmental research opportunities each semester. You can also reach out to professors directly regarding research opportunities at any time.
  7. As part of your academic load, plan to conclude your research project with a final component. This might include a presentation, poster, paper, and/or a reflective writing activity.